“We are meeting today to present and hand over to the parent collections objects that were stolen from Polish museum and library collections as well as from private collections and are now – thanks to the effective restitution activities of the Ministry of Culture – returning to their places of origin,” the culture minister announced.
These recovered art pieces include the “Anthology of Turkish Poetry” manuscript from the University Library in Wrocław, stolen in 1964-1977, Melchior Steidl’s “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary” drawing stolen in 2005 from a Warsaw private collection, and eight antique coins (16th-19th century) stolen from the District Museum in Toruń in 2008-2017.
Gliński stressed that “the Polish state is constantly searching for a huge number of works of art and other museum objects lost both during the war and in the second half of the 20th century.”
“As a result of looting and theft during the post-war chaos, more than half a million valuable works of art went missing,” Gliński recalled.
He noted that “the development of the Internet, new technologies, new search methods, as well as the increase in public awareness of the loss of cultural property, makes the daily work very easy.”
“The Department for Restitution of Cultural Property maintains – in addition to the database of war losses, which already includes almost 66,000 objects – the ‘National List of Monuments Stolen or Exported Abroad Illegally’ containing details of some 12,000 wanted objects. Unfortunately, this number is also growing, as thefts of cultural property occur constantly,” the minister stressed.
Gliński conveyed that “the restitution activities of the Culture and National Heritage Ministry in recent years have led to the finding and recovery of nearly 700 objects, both war losses and monuments stolen today.”